'The Arsenal player fouled by a zebra' and other subtitle failures that make TV 'unwatchable'

Ofcom has found subtitles provide ‘inferior’ viewing experience

If your TV is telling you to feed your ayatollahs fruit and vegetables, squeeze lepl ons and remarking on the zebra that fouled a Premier League footballer, then unfortunately you’re not alone.

Ofcom has released a report highlighting the serious (albeit rather hilarious) mistakes made by live television subtitle services.

The watchdog found that people relying on live subtitles had an “inferior” experience compared to other viewers and highlighted what it called “serious recognition errors”.

These include simple phrases such as "'they need a man" instead of "they need a mum" and "be given to ayatollahs” instead of “be given to our toddlers".

Other examples of mistakes included the Star Wars character Princess Leia being called "Present Cesc lay ya", lemon transcribed as "lepl on" and “sauces” instead of “sources”.

Ofcom looked at The Jeremy Kyle Show, The Graham Norton Show and Top Gear for its report, stating that there are 155 BBC and 53 on ITV which require live subtitles.

Former home secretary David Blunkett has been a vocal critic of poor subtitling standards quoting an example from football commentary where Manchester United's Patrice Evra's challenge on an opponent was rendered as "the Arsenal player has been fouled by a zebra".

Ofcom's report said: "Live subtitling entails unavoidable delays which mean that speech and subtitling cannot be completely synchronised. Errors and omissions are also not uncommon. It is clear from viewers' feedback that, while subtitle users value the opportunity to watch live TV, they sometimes find live subtitling frustrating, and, on occasion, unwatchable."

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